Breastfeeding doesn’t come easy for many women and a big reason why could be that they aren’t eating enough of the right foods to produce a sufficient milk supply for their baby.
It is always important to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet but even more so when you are breastfeeding. I try to eat a “clean” diet and avoid all processed foods. This means that I stick to produce, lean protein, and whole grains. I’ve personally been avoiding dairy because I’ve noticed it makes Daniela gassy and congested, but this isn’t the case for all infants and she will soon outgrow it.
Here’s a quick guide for foods that you should include into your breastfeeding diet that can help boost your lactation.
- Oatmeal is known to lower cholesterol and help regulate your blood pressure but it can also help boost your milk supply as well. I’ve always enjoyed a hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with some berries and natural peanut or almond butter. If you don’t like it try throwing some quick oats into a smoothie with banana, almond milk, natural peanut butter and some ice. Try to avoid the pre-packaged flavored instant oatmeal because it’s loaded with sugar.
- Garlic has been used for centuries as a natural galactagogue (food or herb to increase milk supply). Most of my recipes in this Italian household include garlic but if you don’t like the taste of garlic it is also available in pill form.
- Carrots contain phytoestrogens and are high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A (both of which lactating women have an increased need for). I rarely eat cooked carrots (except for when I make soup or my Bolognese sauce), but I do snack on raw carrots with hummus (food #9!). I also put carrots into our daily juice, which is especially great for breastfeeding moms because it’s believed to raise energy levels and improve the supply and quality of breast milk.
- Fennel is packed with phytoestrogens and can help increase your supply. Fennel has a very distinct, strong taste that I’m not a huge fan of and I don’t cook with it often but it does add a ton of flavor in stews or sautéed with some lean meat.
- Nuts are high in good fats and antioxidants, which aid in milk supply. It’s always a good idea to snack on raw almonds, walnuts or pistachios for a quick nutrient-packed snack.
- Ginger has a long list of health benefits, so I include a knob of ginger in our juice each morning. See my post about juicing here. Included in this list is that it helps increase milk production. However, it does have a really strong taste and might take some getting used to.
- Asparagus is high in fiber, folic acid, Vitamins A, C, and K and is a powerhouse for breastfeeding mamas. It also contains phytoestrogens, which aid in milk production. High fiber foods help to maintain a healthy milk supply.
- Spinach – Same as #7. Dark green veggies are really good for you (duh…no secret here).
- Hummus – Legumes, such as chickpeas (main ingredient in hummus) are a lactogenic food. This is a complete protein and is also made with our #2, garlic.
- Apricots are a natural galactagogue and contain phytoestrogens, which help to balance hormones involved in lactation. They are also high in fiber, Vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium, which also aid in lactation. Dried apricots serve as a great snack for me!
- Salmon is a great source of essential fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids aid in boosting milk supply. This food boosts a mother’s nutrition so that she can produce the hormones necessary to produce breast milk.
If you notice, this list contains all natural, “clean” foods. If you nourish your body correctly and include these foods into your breastfeeding diet, your body should be able to do its job correctly and produce enough milk for your baby (obviously if there aren’t any other extenuating circumstances).
I’m going to address my biggest pet peeve on this topic, and that’s when women say, “I don’t have time to eat healthy with the new baby.” I think that’s a load of crap and a big fat EXCUSE. You need to make time because you are obviously eating something, so why not make it a healthy choice? Most people that say this didn’t eat right before they had kids and might not know how, which is ok, but don’t say you don’t have time. If you don’t buy junk you won’t eat junk. Period the end.
Most importantly, a breastfeeding diet should include a lot of water. I aim to drink a gallon of water each day and let me tell you, it’s hard work and very easy to forget. I carry around my 32 ounce bottle everywhere I go and I know I need to drink four of them to get my gallon in for the day. Most people are chronically dehydrated and should be drinking about half their body weight in ounces of water each day, but for a breastfeeding mom I’d aim for more, especially if you aren’t producing enough milk.
Eating healthy and including these foods into your breastfeeding diet can most definitely help you produce enough milk for your baby, and will also make you feel great as well!